By Matt Novak
Matt Novak has written several books for children, picture books and early readers. He’s also been a puppeteer, a teacher and a Disney artist—he worked on Rescuers Down Under and Beauty and the Beast—so he’s had a lot of experience with reaching children.
Everything about Newt is utterly charming. The pleasingly warm art glows with life. The straightforward text is heartening and funny. And Newt himself is an irresistible salamander in a sporty jersey and a jaunt in his step. What’s not to love?
Newt is out walking and enjoying a beautiful day.
‘“What a perfect day.” Newt said. “I wish I could keep it for always.”’
When he encounters a “perfect” red flower he decides to dig it up and take it home and keep it for always. But once home he realizes he does not have a pot to plant it in. Newt goes in search of a pot and meets a plump mouse carrying a nutshell, a nutshell that looks like a perfect flowerpot.
The mouse offers to give Newt the nutshell. First the mouse needs to water his flower, but where his flower should be there is just a hole in the ground! Newt does not say anything. He goes home and plants the flower, and it does not look so perfect anymore.
‘”It looks different.” He said.”’
When Newt and the flower arrive back at the hole, the mouse was still there and they planted the flower together. It was a perfect day.
“One morning Newt found a strange, fuzzy bug on his doorstep.”
The bug—a round, fuzzy creature with two sets of ten eyes and eight legs that run straight across its body—is pathetically adorable. Newt offers him some food but insists the bug must go home after eating. The bug ate, but he did not go home.
After meeting a bird (sporting a Hawaiian shirt) accompanied by a beautiful pet butterfly, Newt decides to try to spruce up his bug.
Next Newt meets a joyous rabbit with a pet cricket, and the cricket can play music! Newt sets out to see if his bug has any talents.
Next Newt meets a contended mole riding on a big ant, so he tries to ride the bug but the bug does not move.
‘“You are not beautiful, talented or strong.” Newt said. “What kind of bug are you?”’
Then the soft bug jumped into Newt’s arms and made a nice buzzing sound and Newt held the bug.
“You are my bug, and that is enough.”
It was night, but Newt was awake. He peered at the moon through a gap in his curtains.
‘“You look scared.” Newt said.”’
Newt shares with the moon some of the things he does when he feels scared. After describing each comforting activity Newt opens the curtains a bit more; the moon rises in the sky.
He assures the moon that shadows in the room are not as scary as they seem and opens his curtains wide; the moon is high above the house.
Newt is superb book full of wit and charm, and one worth sharing with the whole family.
Buy the book!